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On the 19th of January, 1862, Senator McDOUGALL, of California, had introduced into the Senate a series of Resolutions concerning the attempt to subject the Republic of Mexico to French authority, in which the following peremptory clause appeared:—‘That it is the duty of [403] this Republic to require of the government of France, that her armed forces be withdrawn from the territories of Mexico,’ and on the 3d of February, when the Resolutions came up for consideration, Mr. McDOUGALL made an elaborate speech, in which he doubtless expressed the prevailing sentiment of the Senate, and of the country, so far as the intervention of France and our sympathy with Mexico were concerned. But it was in violation of all prudential considerations, under the circumstances. In the affairs of nations, sometimes those things that are right in themselves, are altogether wrong, all things considered. Mr. McDOUGALL did not make this distinction. But statesmanship could not afford to overlook it. In speaking on this subject, Mr. Lincoln expressed the same words that he did to me when the Trent matter came up, which were exactly these, as he afterwards wrote them to me himself: ‘At that time, we were not prepared to shoulder fresh troubles, having all we could carry, of our own.’

So thought Mr. Sumner, who, in reply to Senator McDougall, said:

Mr. President,—At the present moment there is one touchstone to which I am disposed to bring every question, especially in our foreign relations; and this touchstone is its influence on the suppression of the Rebellion. A measure may in itself be just or expedient; but if it would be a present burden, if it would add to our embarrassments and troubles, and especially if it would aggravate our military condition, then, whatever may be its merits, I am against it. To the suppression of the Rebellion the country offers life and treasure without stint, and it expects that these energies shall not be sacrificed or impaired by the assumption of any added responsibilities.

If I bring these Resolutions to this touchstone, they fail. They may be right or wrong in fact or principle, but their influence at this moment, if adopted, must be most prejudicial to the cause of the Union. Assuming the tone of friendship to Mexico, they practically give to the [404] Rebellion a most powerful ally, for they openly challenge war with France. There is madness in the proposition. I do not question the motives of the Senator, but it would be difficult to conceive anything more calculated to aid and comfort the Rebellion, just in proportion to its adoption. Sufficient unto the lay is the evil thereof. The present war is surely enough, without adding war with France.

It is sufficient that the policy of the Senator from California, without any certainty of good to Mexico, must excite the hostility of France, and give to the Rebellion army and fleets, not to mention that recognition and foreign intervention which we deprecate.

Let us all unite to put down the Rebellion. This is enough for the present.

If Senators are sensitive, when they see European monarchies again setting foot on this hemisphere,—entering Mexico with their armies, entering New Granada with their influence, and occupying the ancient San Domingo,—let them consider that there is but one way in which this return of empire can be arrested. It is by the suppression of the Rebellion. Let the Rebellion be overcome, and this whole continent will fall naturally, peacefully, and tranquilly under the irresistible influence of American institutions. Resolutions cannot do this, nor speeches. I therefore move that the Resolutions lie on the table.

They did.

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